Master Retro Collage Illustration by Alice Ross
Intro – In times of economic and political instability, nostalgia provides security not afforded by some promise of a brighter future. This summer, the UK – and elsewhere – is obsessed with looking backward. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is the most obvious example, but clothes stores are stuffed with 1970s fashions and the current trappings of the Olympics look to our nation’s heritage and the event’s traditions – not its initial mooted purpose to inspire regeneration in deprived urban areas. We even want our snaps to look like warm reminders of better days, hence the popularity of apps such as Instagram to Hipstamatic. This love of the past has been felt as much in illustration and design as elsewhere, and clients are commissioning work that taps into the styles, sensibilities and sense of simplicity of bygone eras. The best work isn’t just replicating the past, it’s re-imagining and remixing it, and many are bringing a fresh modern approach to collage using vintage photos, illustrations and graphics. Collage itself is nothing new – people have been cutting out and gluing photos almost since they were invented – but the five artists we’ve picked here use retro collage playfully to amuse us, to comment on the world around us and sometimes even to pick apart our obsession with nostalgia.
SONIA ROY – EXPLORES DREAMSCAPES
There’s a dreamlike, allegorical quality to Canadian artist Sonia Roy’s work: vintage portraits are cast into enigmatic landscapes, and watched over by birds and foxes. They are highly evocative: hinting at emotionally charged, half-forgotten tales.
“Each of my pieces start with the characters. They are the narrators of my stories,” she explains. “Their expression and pose are very important to me.” In her images, 1950s pin-up girls beam coquettishly, and Edwardian children solemnly gaze on, surrounded by strange industrial landscapes and twisting branches.
Exploring the long-ago is key to Sonia’s work. “As far as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted by vintage images and objects. The retro-style is essential. It defines me deeply,” she says. “Collage is a natural technique for me: it’s the result of my past experiences, my influences and what I am. I like the surrealist aspect of collage, and the combination of disparate elements that tell a story together. I like the idea of recycling old images to create new ones.”
Deeply influenced by the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, she often underscores these influences by using early 20th century artwork as source materials, often colouring certain elements of them with jewel-bright colours while leaving other areas in their original monochrome. She juxtaposes vintage images and soft textures with crisp graphic elements and sharp edges that give a hyperreal and indisputably contemporary twist.
“Clients have told me they found my work very modern, even though I use images from the past,” she says.
Source: Digital Arts Magazine
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